Spiritual Growth

Stages of Spiritual Growth

Children, Young People, Fathers (Parents)

12 I am writing to you, little children,
     that your sins have been forgiven because of his name.
13 I am writing to you, fathers,
     that you have known him who has been from the beginning.
I am writing to you, young people,
     that you have conquered the evil one.
14 I have written to you, children,
     that you have known the Father.
I have written to you, fathers,
     that you have known him who has been from the beginning.
I have written to you, young people,
     that you are strong,
     and the word of God resides in you,
     and you have conquered the evil one. (1 John 2:12-14 NET)

Character Qualities

Faith, Virtue, Knowledge, Self-Control, Steadfastness, Godliness, Brotherly Affection, Love

...make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue [goodness], and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness [perseverance], and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection [mutual affection], and brotherly affection with love [Greek: "agape" - unselfish love, like God's love for us]. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. (2 Pet 1:5-9 ESV)

What does "you are strong" mean for the young person?

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. (Ephesians 6:10 ESV)

I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service (1 Timothy 1:12 ESV)

...whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies... (1 Peter 4:11 ESV)

It is not our own strength but rather it is the strength imputed to us in Christ - spiritual strength from God. The young person has learned to trust in the Lord Jesus Christ to be their strength. It is strength that comes from trusting in the truth which is God's word (John 17:17) because the word of God resides in you (see above in 1 John 2:14). Jesus is the Word (1 John 1-2,14). Jesus is the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6). You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free (John 8:32). If the son, Jesus Christ, sets you free, you will be really free (John 8:36).

Growing Fruitful Disciples

If you would like to take this further I highly recommend that you watch the Vimeo series by Freedom in Christ Ministries (FICM) entitled "Growing Fruitful Disciples".  This video series is centered on 1 John 2:12-14 - spiritual children, young people and fathers.

Overlay 1 John 2:12-14 Spiritual Children, Young People and Fathers with 2 Peter 1:5-7 Character Qualities [1]

New believers will start at the beginning of the 2 Peter character qualities list and mature believers will concentrate on the end of the list.  But we will probably need to work on all these qualities throughout our Christian walk.  The Holy Spirit will remind us, especially if we ask Him to, whenever we are falling short with regard to a particular character quality.

Spiritual Children:

  • 1. Faith Promise of salvation from God, deposit of the Holy Spirit, trusting in God's power, accepting Jesus as God.
  • 2. Goodness Grace of gifts (Gal .5:22), inclination for righteousness (vs. bent or inclined toward evil; warped), foundations built on Jesus; good soil.
  • 3. Knowledge Instruction in truth that builds heart (vs. puffed up mind); truth that follows revelation (vs. opposes it as gnosticism); distinguishes right from wrong.

Spiritual Young People:

  • 4. Self-Control A self discipline that keeps the body in check through the Holy Spirit (vs. demonic help). Not being ruled externally.
  • 5. Perseverance Continuation in the face of adversity, persecution, delays, disappointments, setbacks. Continue with purpose and faith as well as duty.

Spiritual Fathers [and Mothers - Parents with emphasis on Spiritual Fatherhood]:

  • 6. Godliness The character of God formed in us after discipline. Involves holiness, loyalty, trustworthiness, faith, joy, and peace.
  • The Two Great Commandments:
    • 7. Brotherly Kindness The reaching out in ministry to those identified as brothers (Ex: good Samaritan). Covenant righteousness, non-covenant righteousness.
    • 8. Love Life laid down for another, love that gives, fatherhood, love for enemies ("While we were yet sinners...").

2 Pet 1:8-9 "For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins."

Life lessons, projects or instructions that teach, form or direct these characteristics.

  • 1. Faith Father's covenant; keeping promises made; protection, comfort, provision; new promises; making things "safe".
  • 2. Goodness Disciplined for guilt; example of righteousness; example of loyalty to truth; learning to give; no favoritism; without comparison.
  • 3. Knowledge School; church school; note taking; father's counsel; table discussion on moral issues; hands on experience; experimentation; conscience.
  • 4. Self-control Don't hide; face work, trouble, consequences; do not's of scripture; placement of boundaries; use of "no" ; standing alone; quick to listen, slow to anger. [controlling the tongue]
  • 5. Perseverance Completing jobs and homework; completing work in spite of illness; working without reward; working for others; accepting difficult work.
  • 6. Godliness "What would Jesus do?" Consistent in habits; telling on self; bearing burdens; bronze wall; prayer relationship; loving God; joy in worship; mercy, justice.
  • 7. Brotherly Kindness "To whom was Jesus sent?" Ministry assignments; volunteer work; alms giving; poor, widows and orphans; helping others get ahead; good neighbor.
  • 8. Love "How did Jesus live and die?" Praying for and blessing unsaved; laying down life; responsibilities; 1 Cor.13; eternal investments vs.temporal; obedience to commitments; discipline for wrong doing; maintaining covenant through difficult times.



1. Gordon H. Powlison. Church Discipleship Curriculum. (Gordon H. Powlison and Associates, undated-spiral bound), 15-18.  [brackets added by webmaster]